Listen. You hear that? It’s the know it alls. They are on a case. They have a new pet project. There is an outrage they have set their sights on, and nothing will get in their way from squawking about it. You have to hand it to the know it alls. They do know how to get their pet issue to the forefront. The issue I am speaking about isn’t the annual sham that is the NHL All Star Game, rather I am speaking about the on ice tragedy that befell Ontario Senior Hockey player Don Sanderson, and the post-fight seizure suffered by Garrett Klotz. Both instances were as a result of horrible, tragic, terrible, bad luck, but that hasn’t stopped the know it alls from saying hockey MUST ban fighting, right this second, not a second later, I will stand here and squawk squawk squawk until my cause is finished.
For better or worse, and much to the chagrin of the squawkers, fighting is an intimate part of the NHL. From the Broadstreet Bullies of the 1970s to the bench clearing brawls of the 1980s to the mano-a-mano fisticuffs of the 1990s, fighting is intertwined with hockey just like slap-shots, breakaways, and group sex parties. Have people in the past been injured by fighting? Of course. Broken hands and noses come automatically with repeated punches to someone’s head. Prior to the past two weeks, have the squawkers been demanding the end of hockey fights? No. I wonder why that is? I wonder if the squawkers aren’t just using the two aforementioned tragedies as a soapbox to get their voices heard?
Does the NHL need to do something to curtail some of the violence we have seen on the ice? Yes. Does banning fighting from the NHL curtail that violence? Absolutely not. Want to know what will curtail that violence and prevent Todd Bertuzzi from ending someone’s career again? The answer is contraction.
In the 1980s there was fighting. Teams had enforcers. They could and would drop their gloves at the drop of a hat. But at the same time as they were occasionally chucking a few knuckles, they were also scoring 20+ goals for their team. In short, their fighting skills supplemented their all around game. Now, the fighters on respective NHL teams are lucky to score 20+ goals in their entire career. The reason for that is that the NHL has expanded well beyond the actual number of NHL caliber players there are available to play in the supposed “best hockey league” in the world. If the NHL was to eliminate eight teams, that is 160 fewer players who don’t currently belong in the same league as the Crosby’s, Malkin’s, Ovechkin’s and Iginla’s of the NHL. Goodbye Jared Boll, whoever you are. So long Riley Cote, don’t worry there is always room for you at Earls on Main back in Winnipeg. Adios George Parros, but don’t worry there will always be room for your moustache.
With the departure of these 160 players, whose primary “attribute” is the ability to fight and thus intimidate other players, perhaps, we will then go back to the era of 8-6 games, and hockey will return to being a game of skill, speed, and substance, as opposed to this hodge-podge of Greco-Roman Wrestling on ice we are currently subjected to. Somehow, I think the squawkers will be able to survive and will in short form, find another topic to wail about.
For Illegal Curve, I am Drew Mindell
If you think I need to take a few blows to the head, please join the discussion below.